NHS Improvement’s Clinical leadership – a framework for action promotes the importance of more professionally diverse leadership teams. It highlights some of the barriers to clinicians, such as Orthoptists, reaching the most senior levels. This is hugely positive and we would like to see it act as a spur for more of our members to progress to leadership positions.

This guide reflects one of the priorities of the recent NHS Long Term Plan, which highlights the importance of visible senior clinical leadership in enabling and assuring the delivery of high quality care. It has been recognised that professionally diverse teams are better equipped to adapt to the complex challenges facing the NHS. The new publication seeks to encourage this through providing leaders with new perspectives on what might be standing in the way of progress, while also providing questions to consider and some possible ways of tackling common barriers.

It is encouraging to see recognition of some of the major barriers to Orthoptists progressing to leadership positions and that steps being taken to tackle this. The framework has been developed through discussions with clinicians exploring some of the barriers and enablers they identify when moving into senior leadership positions, such as unhelpful career structures and lower expectations of clinicians making this step.

The framework is also accompanied by a number of case studies showing how clinicians, including Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), are making valuable contributions in senior leadership roles.  There are valuable lessons to be learned from their journeys but it is also pleasing to see these achievements recognised, particularly as the barriers to progress include a lack of role models for clinicians and the failure to prioritise the value of having clinicians in these role.

This is timely for BIOS as we will soon be launching our new My Eyes My Orthoptist campaign, which includes a call for the removal of arbitrary barriers to promotion for Orthoptists. We would therefore encourage our members to share this resource and consider some of the lessons in the case studies.

The Clinical leadership report has also been endorsed by the Allied Health Professions Federation (AHPF), of which BIOS is an active member.

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